Columbus, OH – An NCAA panel reported that the Ohio State football program circumvented minimum neck-having requirements by stuffing the roster with neck-having students who never saw the playing field. The 40 Ohio State football players who saw the most game minutes last season had an average neck length of 1.9″. Yet the program as a whole averaged a 3.2″ inch neck, and the bottom of the depth chart maintained a 4.8″ neck length. The NCAA’s neck requirement is calculated by median roster neck length, measured twice per academic year. Teams must maintain a 3.0″ median neck length or face sanctions.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he was “proud of our program and proud of our necks” while criticizing the NCAA’s neck measurement system. Neck length is measured by stacking 1/4th-inch metal discs from the top of the collarbone to the back of the jawline. The century-old method has its critics, but the NCAA defends it as providing reliable results difficult to forge. Tressel denied the existence of neck prejudice within D-I football: “I’m neck-blind. I don’t see necks when I’m evaluating talent. I’ll send a kid out there with a slender neck, lumpy, tree stump, whatever. I want arms and legs and chests, is what I care about.”
Investigators cited anonymous reports that assistant coaches regularly invited “giraffes,” or male students with half-foot necks, to informal team dinners. Such tactics are violations of the NCAA neck-blind recruitment policy. Sanctions would cost Ohio scholarships, which would harm its ability to attract elite arms and legs. This would be the second Ohio State violation in the last 10 years. In 2003, Ohio State was cited for not offering ten percent of its scholarships to athletes who could see their feet over the horizon of their pectoral muscles.